There was a phenomenal response by medical volunteers offering their skills during the September 11th attacks. Lessons learned post event emphasized the critical need for organizing these healthcare professionals for emergency deployment or to supplement personnel assisting with local public health endeavors. In his 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush asked all Americans to offer meaningful volunteer service in support of their country and communities. Answering this call, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) was founded that same year.
MRC units are local community based entities. Members donate their time and expertise responding to disasters (man-made and natural) or in assisting with local public health initiatives throughout the year. The Medical Reserve Corps is a partner program with Citizen Corps, a national network of volunteers dedicated to ensuring hometown security and health. Other Citizen Corps members include the American Red Cross and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). All MRC's are managed by a local Coordinator who reports to the Office of the Surgeon General. Currently there are 985 units nationwide comprised of over 206,580 volunteers. Florida boasts 33 MRC units throughout the state.
MRC's are comprised primarily of local practicing and retired medical and public health professionals. Other vital members can include clergy, interpreters, administrative assistants, and legal advisors. The Collier County MRC is available to mitigate and alleviate the health effects of natural and man-made disasters in our community.
The Collier County Medical Reserve Corps was established in 2003 and includes both healthcare and nonmedical volunteers. Supported by the Collier County Health Department, our MRC is intended to augment local public healthcare needs and Emergency Preparedness activities. An important benefit of being an MRC Medical Volunteer includes Sovereign Immunity, allowing the same liability protection as afforded to state employees and workers' compensation coverage during related activities.
Volunteers have assisted in local response to hurricanes by staffing our Special Needs Shelter during hurricanes, by staffing vaccination centers during the recent H1N1 pandemic, and have even been deployed out of county to help our affected neighbors in state. Activities throughout the year can include participating in vaccination clinics, school screenings, response training, or participating in county wide disaster exercises. Volunteers meet quarterly for meeting/training sessions.